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The South of Scotland not only flaunts incredible natural landscapes, but also a rich cultural heritage and history. Turn your Raiders Gravel experience into a weekend getaway by exploring this beautiful region. This beach-focused itinerary highlights some of the gems to visit and places to stay as you come or leave Gatehouse of Fleet, our event village.

If you stop someone on the street here in Gatehouse and ask “which is the best beach?”, you will get a long and possibly complicated answer that will include the words “well, it depends”. Everyone has their favourite, so you’ll find every opinion will be contradicted by the second person you ask. We have so many beautiful beaches here in Galloway, you’ll have to do some serious exploring before picking your personal favourite!

Threave Garden

Not a beach at all but, as you are going right by it, you may as well visit one of Scotland’s finest gardens – there is of course a cafe. Park at the Holm (before the farm, near Orchardton Tower) and walk the 3km to Horse Isle Bay through the forest. You will almost certainly have the beach to yourself if you get there before midday.
 

Balcary Bay

A circular, high cliff walk as good as any in the UK. Peregrine falcons, dolphins and seals can be spotted here, plus hundreds of seabirds and spectacular views. There is a hotel and cafe for you here too. This is such an unusual walk and much more the sort of walk you would expect in Devon or Cornwall. Again, you may have the place to yourself.

Dundrennan

Again, not a beach! However, there is still plenty to see and lots of history to discover: the Abbey here was where Mary Queen of Scots spent her final day in Scotland! There is also a fine cafe here to rest.

Kirkcudbright Bay

In 1778,  John Paul Jones – the local boy-made-bad – attempted to kidnap the Earl of Selkirk from his mansion on St Mary’s Isle, near Kirkcudbright, not far from Jones’s own birthplace of Arbigland. The reason for the abduction was to use the Earl as a bargaining tool to gain the release of American hostages being held by the British. But it may also be that he had personal reasons for the raid. Arriving at the mansion, the group soon discovered one of the principal rules of kidnap: ensure your intended victim is at home. It all turned into a bit of a farce with the future father of the American (and Russian) navy.

Park, and continue on foot to the RNLI boat launch and beyond for a spectacular view and cliff walk.

Kirkcudbright Harbour

One of the most beautiful and vibrant small towns in Scotland. Galleries, craft shops and more than enough cafes to keep you going. Grab some fish and chips in the harbour, or book a table in one of the fine restaurants – The Selkirk Arms should be high on your list. A place to walk slowly around.

Brighouse Bay

A dead-end road finishes on the cusp of one of the finest golden sand beaches in Galloway. Parking and toilets are available here, so you can spend as long as you like frolicking in the sand. This is a place to walk and take in the sunset with a drink – many people vote this as number one in beaches.

Coo Palace

There are a number of small coves here and a fine view out across the Solway. This stretch of coast was always close to the hands of history, from the Vikings to the pirates and smugglers. The rocks at the cove show signs of the ropes of Viking boats that were tied up here. The palace itself is not accessible to non-residents, but it certainly provides a fantastic view as you ride, walk or drive past.

Carrick

You can take your pick of beaches here. Some sandy and others with beautiful rocks and shallow pools. Picnics are a must here on a fine day, and the rather trendy wild-water swim is of course an option.

Cream O’ Galloway

Ice cream and beaches liken to gin and tonic, Laurel and Hardy etc. This organic dairy makes some of the finest ice cream you will ever taste and would make a connoisseur more than happy.

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Our presenting partner: Canyon

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Itineraries

Where to stay

Thinking of turning your Raiders Gravel adventure into a week-long getaway? First of all, let us say: smart move. The South of Scotland has so much to offer, and we guarantee you’ll find plenty of things to see and do. Here are our favourite accommodation options!

Raiders Tales

The Potato Smugglers

The Edinburgh Road was used by smugglers moving goods that had been landed at the coast, all the way across to the capital to sell. One of the smugglers, Mc Harg, a dealer in contraband tea who regularly stopped off at the Murray’s, was in the habit of obtaining second-hand books of various sorts in the city which he gave to the young Alexander Murray.